The day saw a crowded room – a wonderful mix of new counsellors and experienced counsellors – all of whom were yearning to learn more, refresh previous learnings and add to their skill set.
John imparts his wisdom in a way that makes you feel like you’re mostly chatting with a friend, which makes learning subtle and powerful.
A history of working in different fields through NHS, addiction programs, Drink-driving programs and his own private practice has seen John pull stories and learnings from many areas.
Having worked on the front line, John has supported folk who are literally ‘on their knees’ at the worst of their addiction.
We discussed how addiction is often perceived initially as alcohol and hard drugs, but we as a group came up with a comprehensive list of what areas of lives addictions may show up. These include (but not limited to)
- Weight Loss
- Self harm
- Keeping up with the Jones
‘Feeling better is more important than being better’ – this feeds the addiction desire and immediate gratification.
The Disease model – focuses on ‘it’s not my fault’ (surrender control) – but it’s my responsibility to manage the problem.
Interventions – do they work? Sometimes interventions are effective but people often relapse, owing to the sequence of painful/uncomfortable emotions as illustrated below.
Guilt } => Leads to pain
Need to relieve pain – triggers relapse
When we find something pleasurable the brain produces dopamine, ‘the reward’ feeling. Ways in which people can trigger dopamine include
- Thrill seeking
- Pleasurable memories
Obviously some of these methods aren’t bad per se, eg exercise, sex and love. The line blurs when something that can be healthy is ‘the new addiction’. The trick is for those pleasure pathways not to become addictive and/or cause issues in our lives.
Finding healthy ways and means to meet those dopamine cravings via creative means that work for each client goes a long way towards recovery from addiction.
There is the obvious need to work with the feelings at the core of these issues. For many, the need to soothe via a dopamine fix has been created very early in life, owing to stress and/or trauma that has yet to be resolved. Good leading questions could include.
‘What purpose is behind the addiction and how does it serve me now?’
‘What’s great about your addiction?’
‘What’s the unmet need?’
‘Is there a healthier way to meet that need?’
Often an unmet or resolved need from childhood, leaves the client stuck ‘at that age’, not knowing how to move forward.
Addiction is not a one stop shop in terms of helping people recover.
For some the 12 step programme, that many are familiar with, feels vital for their recovery. For others this is not a model they can work with. It’s an individual journey.
When a client is motivated to change their behaviour, they will often to need to withdraw from a substance.
If we are supporting clients with an alcohol addiction who wish to stop, many will need medical supervision, owing to the risks associated with detoxification and the ensuing side effects that can happen. This can happen via GP surgery, who may offer an in-home service. There are various private clinics throughout the Hampshire Area.
Despite John offering ‘an overview’, the day felt very comprehensive, but as always with great training days, left us all chomping at the bit for a little more.
Thank you John.